Monthly Archives: June 2012

Remembering a Jewish Hero

Coming out of the horrors of the Holocaust, the modern State of Israel was formed.  There were men and women who took it upon themselves to lead the way in what was the defense and protection of the Jewish people.  With immense gratitude to those who fought and risked everything for this purpose the Jewish people and the State of Israel live on today.  The future is uncertain and concerning, but without people such as Yitzhak Shamir it might not even be a discussion today.  With that in mind I say, Rest in Peace to Yitzchak Shamir, an Israeli leader and a Jewish hero.  May you be always remember with blessing.

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In Support of Greek Jewry

As documented in the book Jew Face, the nation of Holland had 75% of its Jewish population murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.  Another nation with one of the smaller Jewish populations which suffered similar devastation was the country of Greece.  Between 60,000-70,000 Greek Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, most of them in Auschwitz.  At the end of the war an estimated 8-10,000 survived.  Keeping alive the rich history and culture of Greek Judaism with such a small number remaining is a difficult task, one which my friend Richard Solomon has taken upon himself to do.  The following is a link where you can acquire a CD  of a discussion about Greek Jewish history and the Greek Jewish Synagogue and Museum of New York.Go to http://kkjsm.org/ and help keep alive the Greek Jewish history and culture.


Europe 1940 to Euro 2012

Whenever possible, Holland’s Heroes attempts to take current events and link it to the story in Jew Face.  Sometimes it is an obvious connection, sometimes it is a stretch requiring imagination, and occasionally it is a connection that in its insignificance is mildly entertaining and sometimes even funny or ironic.  This particular post falls into that last category.

Over the next 5 days the champion for Euro 2012 International Football(soccer) tournament will be crowned.  The semifinal matches are as follows.  Today, Spain against Portugal.  Tomorrow, Germany against Italy.

The book Jew Face is the story of my parents Nardus and Sipora Groen, primarily surrounding the events taking place between 1940-1945.  My mother’s maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes.  A Dutch Jew from Spanish-Portuguese descent, my mother spent 5 years either hiding or running from the Nazi killing machine with the help of my father Nardus Groen.  This book chronicles the events that took place as they lived through the time when Germany occupied Holland.  One of Germany’s allies during World War II; Italy.

I think the irony is obvious.  The not so obvious question, seeing as these countries are very different countries today is, who would I like to see win this thing.  I will keep that answer to myself.  At least for today.


Another special review of the book

The following is a wonderfully written review of the book Jew Face written by my friend Tessa Henry.  Thank you Tessa for your beautiful words.

Survival is probably the strongest and most primal of all human instincts. It is used and misused to justify so much. The most heinous and amoral behaviors are explained by “it’s a fight for our very survival”, as once again, it’s a primal instinct we can all relate to. So what does one do when confronted by the epitome of evil? When your very existence…MORE


Introducing the Book Excerpt Page

THIS POST INTRODUCES THE WEBSITES NEW “EXCERPTS” PAGE.  ON THIS PAGE YOU WILL FIND PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE BOOK JEW FACE AS WELL AS SOME SPECIAL WRITTEN EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK.  CLICK ANYWHERE HERE TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE PAGE.


What’s good about this book?

Having written this book, I am always slightly skeptical of those who compliment me directly after reading it.  It’s not that I question the integrity of these people, nor do I doubt that the book is a good read, it’s merely the fact that I would never expect someone to look me straight in the face and say something bad about the book. Most people just won’t do that.  So when people tell other people they like the book and they tell me why, that element of doubt is eliminated.

This is what I have been hearing.  People can’t put the book down.  I’ve heard it is a moving story, told in an easy to read, enjoyable fashion.  Many have read it in 1 or 2 sittings and complained slightly that there was not more they could read about the characters in the book.  Some have been educated by it, others inspired.  Either way the result is a good one.

Now here are some basic things I wanted to accomplish in my writing of the book.  First and foremost I made sure to never lose sight of the horrors that took place.  Although this particular story has a feel good element to it, I made sure to give a real account of the suffering, fear, and loss of life inflicted on the Jewish people.

The next thing I felt was critical was to clearly show the greatness of the te Kieftes.  For those of you who do not know, the te Kieftes were the family that hid my mother for almost a year and a half despite the risk to their own life.  I’ve been told that I accomplished my goal regarding them.

The next critical element for me was to make this a story of good against evil and make the distinction very clear.  I did this by not expanding on the personalities of the good people.  The evil were the Nazis or any collaborators of the Nazis.  Anyone else was good.  Every single one of these good people had flaws.  This was not a book about their flaws and therefore was not part of the book.  This was important to me and something I accomplished so well that some have commented on how the good people seemed almost too perfect.  Fine with me. Compared to the Nazi animals these people were perfect.

Lastly, I wanted to speak of the love between my mother and father.  The interesting thing I discovered was that everyone has a different standard when it comes to love stories.  So for some it was very much a love story, while for others even more of a love story would have been acceptable.  Either way, when people finish the book they realize the love that was there.

Just one more point I would like to make.  Even with that slight element of skepticism I have for direct compliments, I still do like and appreciate them.  I tried to create something important here and any affirmation of that makes it slightly more successful.  So for those of you who have spoken well of the book, thank you very much and tell your friends.  In the meantime, happy reading to you all.


The love story in Jew Face

In a random conversation a few weeks back, after mentioning my book, I jokingly suggested to a young woman that I should promote Jew Face as the perfect book to read upon completing Fifty Shades of Grey.  She grinned slightly and lifted up the book she was reading, Fifty Shades Darker, the second in the Fifty Shades trilogy.  I proceeded to ask her what would cause her to be drawn to my book.  She responded with the words, “if it was a love story”.

Well for those of you wondering, Jew Face is the story of a woman unable to move safely in her home town of Amsterdam due to what in those days in that city was her very Jewish face, and a Jewish man who looked like a regular Dutchman, who took it upon himself to see to her safety regardless of the danger involved.  His emerging love for the woman and her initial trust and faith that steadily turned into a deep and long lasting love is the foundation of the entire story.

So for those looking for a love story, there is a reason the subtitle is  ”A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland.”  This story revolves around so many different aspects, with love very much in the forefront.